Sun, Oct 28, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US to fight China’s ‘empire’ of ‘bribes,’ Mike Pompeo says

AFP, WASHINGTON

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to members of the press in the briefing room of the US Department of State in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said that China was seeking to build an “empire” by bribing leaders with investment and vowed to fight it “at every turn.”

As tensions led by trade disputes soar between China and US President Donald Trump’s administration, the US has increasingly warned developing nations, especially in Latin America, to beware of Beijing’s economic push.

Speaking to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Pompeo said that the US welcomes “commercial competition with China on a fair and reciprocal basis.”

“But when China shows up with bribes to senior leaders in countries in exchange for infrastructure projects that will harm the people of that nation, then this idea of a treasury-run empire build is something that I think would be bad for each of those countries,” Pompeo said.

China’s economic push “certainly presents risk to American interests, and we intend to oppose them at every turn,” he said.

Pompeo cast the Chinese policy as part of a more assertive drive by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), saying that Beijing’s willingness to splash money around the world has increased in the past two to three years.

Xi in 2015 pledged US$250 billion in direct investment in Latin America and the Caribbean and twice as much in trade.

China defends its trade as mutually beneficial and says that, unlike Western powers, it would steer clear of meddling in other countries’ internal affairs.

However, critics say that China’s interest in Latin America and Africa is almost exclusively about extracting natural resources and boosting its own economy, with little regard for local workers or long-term local growth.

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